November 26, 2019

HOW THE BOLSHEVIKS WON THE MASSES IN 1917

A. VLADIMIROV
"The point here is not that the vanguard shall realize the impossibility of preserving the old order of things and the inevitability of its overthrow. The point is that the masses, the millions, shall understand this inevitability and display their readiness to support the vanguard. But the masses can understand this only from their own experience. The task is to enable the vast masses to realize from their own experience the inevitability of the overthrow of the old regime, to promote such methods of struggle and forms of organization as will make it easier for the masses to learn from experience to recognize the correctness of the revolutionary slogans."-Joseph Stalin.
THE effects of the first world imperialist  war  were  particularly devastating  in the  case   of Russia.  

After  thirty  months  of  war,  in which  over sixteen  million  men were mobilized, or about 47  per cent   of the total adult able-bodied male  population, Russia   was   in  a  state   of  complete  economic  ruin.  

The whole burden of the war fell The insurgent workers  were  joined upon  the  shoulders  of  the  
workers  and   peasants.    Hundreds   of   thousands  perished  in  the  trenches.

Millions  of  working  people  in  the  rear suffered unparalleled hardships and privation. Yet at the same time the manufacturers, big merchants and landlords were piling  up wealth, stuffing their pockets with scandalous war profits. Profiteering and bribery reigned supreme. The price of bread rose rapidly. Food became scarce  in  the  country,  and the soldiers in the trenches and the workers in  the  rear  were  reduced to  starvation rations.


At the beginning of 1917, the economic disruption became even more acute. The capital cities-Petrograd and Moscow-ran short of food. Consignments of provisions practically  stopped   owing  to   the  total of the transport  system. The factories came to a standstill. The position  of  the workers became intolerable.
   
 On  February  27,   1917,  the workers   of   Petrograd   rose   in  revolt.  "Down with the  tsar!"  "Down  with the war!" "We want bread!"-the    working men and women demanded.  They  were  led  by  the Bolsheviks. The insurgent workers were joined  by the  soldiers.

The combined  armed action of the workers  and  soldiers  decided  the  fate of  the autocracy.

News of the victory of the revolution in Petrograd swept like wildfire through the country. Everywhere-at the front and in the rear -workers, peasants and soldiers hastened to join the Petrograd
workers and rallied beneath the banner of revolution. The tsarist autocracy was swept away.

* * *

The revolution awakened the hitherto oppressed and downtrodden masses, with all their petty-bourgeois prejudices, and like a spring flood swept them irresistibly into social and political life.

Right at the very beginning of the revolution the workers, peasants and soldiers set up Soviets. But
owing to their inadequate organization and excessive trustfulness, they voluntarily surrendered the power to the bourgeoisie.

"While the Bolsheviks were directly leading the struggle of the masses in the streets, the  compromising parties, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, were seizing the seats in the Soviets, and building up a majority there. This was partly facilitated by the fact that the majority of the leaders of the Bolshevik Party were in prison or exile (Lenin was in exile abroad and Stalin and Sverdlov in banishment in Siberia) while the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries were freely promenading the streets of Petrograd." (History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,p. 177, International Publishers, New York.)

These traitors to the revolution, playing on the confidence of the masses, did their utmost to slur over
the question of terminating the war, the question of peace, and to turn over the power to the bourgeoisie.

With their assistance, there was formed, side by side with the Soviets, a Provisional Government, headed by avowed defenders of the bourgeois and landlord system and direct agents of British and French capital.

The revolution was made for the sake of peace, bread, land and liberty. But the Provisional Government was neither willing nor able to give any of these things.

The objective situation in Russia in 1917 was such that whoever wanted peace, bread, land and liberty, whoever wanted to put an end to the war and to the economic disruption and crisis, had to proceed immediately and unhesitatingly to fight for the power of the workers and poor peasants, for socialism.

For peace could not be expected from a government of bourgeois and landlords who were interested in continuing the imperialist war.

Bread could only be got by taking it from the landlords and capitalists,for which purpose they would have to be expropriated. The land could be given to the peasants only by taking it away from the landlords.

Liberty for the people could only be assured by overthrowing the power of the capitalists and landlords, who were already negotiating with the representatives of the deposed monarchy for its restoration.

The economic disruption could not be repaired except by establishing the strictest state control over the production and consumption of goods, and except by encroaching on the profits of the capitalists and landlords. The whole objective course of events in Russia in 1917 powerfully accelerated by the imperialist war, made a transition to socialism an issue of the utmost urgency, as the only salvation for the masses of the people. Not a single one of the basic problems of the revolution could be settled without definite steps being taken towards socialism, without fighting for socialism.

The Bolshevik Party was fully aware of this. Having led the workers in the February fighting, after the overthrow of tsardom it began to devote all its energies to consolidating its ranks. It swept aside the skeptics, the capitulators and the bourgeois agents who had wormed their way into its midst and strove for the transfer of power to the Soviets.

The bourgeoisie was equally aware of it. It therefore at once began to organize and muster its forces to fight the revolution, and only waited for an opportune moment to concentrate the whole power in its own hands and suppress the Soviets.

The only ones who were not yet aware of this were the broad mass of the people, who had just been awakened to political life, were intoxicated with the comparative ease of the victory over tsardom believed in the promises of the' Provisional Government, and allowed themselves to be fooled by the compromising  parties-the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks.

Lenin wrote:
"A gigantic petty-bourgeois wave has swept over everything and overwhelmed the class-conscious proletariat, not only by force of numbers but also ideologically; that is, it has infected very wide circles of workers with the petty-bourgeois outlook on politics. (V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VI, p. 49, International Publishers, New York.)
But the masses were yearning for peace, want inexorably drove them to fight for bread and land, and this was the Achilles' heel of the compromising policy of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries and of the counter-revolutionary policy of the bourgeoisie.

Any further advance of the revolution would solely depend on whether the masses would understand the true state of affairs, and shake off the influence of petty bourgeois views on politics; it would depend on their attitude towards the bourgeoisie, towards the Provisional Government, and towards the frothing eloquence of the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary orators.

The masses had to learn from their own experience that peace, bread, land and liberty could not be obtained without overthrowing the imperialist Provisional Government. without driving out the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries and other agents of the bourgeoisie, and without replacing it by a government of Soviets.

The growth of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution into a socialist revolution would therefore depend upon the speed with which the masses were enlightened, on whether they would rid themselves of the influence of the bourgeoisie and the compromising Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. 

On April 3 (April 16, new style), l917, after having spent ten years in exile abroad, Lenin returned to Russia. The following day, at a conference of Bolshevik delegates to the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies held in a small room in the Taurida Palace in Petrograd, he read his theses on "The Tasks of the Proletariat in the Present Revolution." These were his immortal April Theses: 
"The specific feature of the present situation in Russia," Lenin declared, "is that it represents a transition from the first stage of the revolution-which, owing to the in-sufficient class-consciousness and organization of the proletariat, led to the assumption of power by the bourgeoisie-to the second stage, which must place the power in the hand,s of the proletariat and the poor strata of the peasantry.

"This transition is characterized, on the one hand, by a maximum of freedom (Russia is now the freest of all the belligerent countries in the world); on the other, by the absence of violence in relation to the masses, and, finally, by the naive confidence of the masses in the government of capitalists, the worst enemies of peace and socialism.  
"This specific situation demands on our part an ability to adapt our-selves to the specific requirements of Party work among unprecedentedly large masses of proletarians who have just awakened to political life." (Ibid., p. 22.)
There could be no question of supporting the Provisional Government. The war continued to be an imperialist war, a war against the interests of the people. It was necessary, Lenin taught, to expose the utter falsity of the promises of the Provisional Government, to explain to the masses that the Soviets of Workers' Deputies: 
" ... are the only possible form of revolutionary government and that therefore our task is, as long as this government submits to the influence of the bourgeoisie, to present a patient, systematic, and persistent explanation of the errors of their tactics, an explanation especially adapted to the practical needs of the masses. 
"As long as we are in the minority we carry on the work of criticizing and explaining errors and at the same time advocate the necessity of transferring the entire power of state to the Soviets of Workers' Deputies, so that the masses may by experience overcome their mistakes." (Ibid., p. 23.) 
An essential prerequisite for the transition to the socialist revolution was to isolate the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, who at that time held the majority in the Soviets, and for the Bolshevik Party to win over the majority of the revolutionary masses. But how was this to be done? In view of the fact that the broad mass of the people were a prey to petty-bourgeois influences, this could only be done if the masses learned by their own experience that the Bolshevik slogans were correct. 


It was not enough to tell the masses the truth; it had to be brought home to them.

The slogan advanced by Lenin-"All Power to the Soviets!" was a slogan of this kind. What did it mean? 

It meant the transfer of the whole power of the state to the Soviets. 
"The Soviets in their class com-position were organs of the movement of the workers and peasants, the ready-made form of their dictatorship. Had they possessed the entire state power, the main short-coming of the petty bourgeois strata, their chief sin, namely, confidence in the capitalists, would have been overcome in practice, would have been subjected to the criticism derived from the experience of their own measures." (Ibid., p. 168.) 
The economic demands made in Lenin's theses amounted to the confiscation of the landed estates and the nationalization of all the land, the establishment of a national bank by the fusion of all the banks in the country, and the institution of control over the social production and distribution of goods. These measures were not directly socialistic in themselves, but they were important steps towards socialism. The strength of the Bolshevik economic platform lay in the fact that it contained just those demands which were alone capable of satisfying the masses and saving them from starvation and of leading the country out of the state of war and economic disruption. 

Lenin's April Theses were a powerful weapon to the Party in its efforts to win the support of the masses for the socialist revolution. 

They enabled the Party "to emerge onto the new road at one stride." (Stalin.) There were only isolated individuals within the Party, such as Kamenev, Pyatakov, Rykov and other traitors, who op-posed the April Theses and tried to drag the Party back. The Party repudiated these individuals and rallied solidly around Lenin.

And this was no chance thing: the Party had been prepared by its whole previous experience for a new stage in the struggle for socialism. And, immediately ·after the February Revolution, it was prepared for this, above all, by Stalin's articles in the Pravda.
Stalin returned to Petrograd from. exile in remote Turukhansk on March 12 (25), 1917. Two days later an article of his appeared in Pravda entitled "The Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies," in which he wrote: 
"To shatter the old power a temporary alliance between the insurrectionary workers and soldiers was enough ..

"But a temporary alliance be-tween the workers and soldiers is far from enough to preserve the liberties achieved and to further develop the revolution.  
"That requires that this alliance should be made conscious and secure, lasting and stable, sufficiently stable to withstand the provocative attempts of the counter-revolutionaries"
"The organs of this alliance are the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies ..
"The revolutionary Social-Democrats must work to consolidate these Soviets, make them universal, and link them together under the aegis of the Central Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies as the organ of revolutionary power of the people." (Lenin-Stalin, 1917, pp. 11-12.) 
Stalin wrote that the war had not ceased to be an imperialist war. He denounced those who were demanding that the Provisional Government should be supported. 
"The Provisional Government," he wrote in an article entitled "Conditions of Victory of the Russian Revolution," "did not arise on the barricades, but in the vicinity of the barricades. Consequently, it is not revolutionary-it only trails after the revolution, dragging it back and getting in its way."
 Thus, thanks to the way in which Stalin put the question, the Bolshevik Party was already fully prepared for the slogan, "All Power to the Soviets!" 

That is why Lenin's April Theses, which opened a new historical phase in the Party's work, was very soon adopted unanimously by the whole Party. 

At that period the Bolshevik Party stressed the need of propaganda, of explaining its slogans, as the prime prerequisite in its efforts to win over the masses. The circumstances of the situation made this form of Party activity the cardinal one. Lenin vigorously trounced those who were inclined to minimize or altogether deny the importance of propaganda. 
"This may appear to be 'nothing more' than propaganda work," he wrote at this period, "but in reality it is extremely practical revolutionary work; for there is no advance for a revolution that has come to a standstill, that has choked itself with phrases, and that keeps marking time, not because of external obstacles, not because of the violence of the bourgeoisie (Guchkov is still only threatening to employ violence against the soldier masses), but because of the naive trustfulness of the masses." (V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol VI, p. 51.) 
Exposing the Mensheviks and "Left" phrase mongers, Lenin above all demanded persistent, incessant, and painstaking day-to-day explanatory work among the masses. What was required was not high-sounding ultra-revolutionary talk about immediately overthrowing the power of the bourgeoisie, but the systematic propaganda of the Bolshevik slogans; only such efforts could lead to the desired goal-the emancipation of the masses from the influence of the bourgeoisie.
  
The Petrograd Bolshevik Conference, at which Lenin's theses were discussed and adopted, had scarcely ended when the first major crisis swept over the country, fully corroborating these theses. We are referring to the demonstration of April, 1917. 

On the morning of April 19, the day following the First of May celebrations (under the old calendar May Day fell on April 18), in which for the first time countless masses took part, the news was circulated that Milyukov, the Foreign Minister in the Provisional Government, had sent a note to the Allies intimating Russia's readiness to continue the war until complete victory.
  
Huge demonstrations filled the streets of Petrograd. The workers and soldiers marched towards the Mariinsky Palace, where the Provisional Government was in session. One regiment even came out fully armed with the intention of arresting the Provisional Government. The latter attempted to organize a counter-demonstration, but without success. The workers and soldiers of Petrograd rose up in action. 

The Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party called upon the masses to organize a demonstration in Petrograd on April 21. At the same time it explained to them that their only salvation lay in joining the revolutionary proletariat, for only a government in the shape of the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies would be in a position to put an early end to the war and secure a just peace. 

Over one hundred thousand workers and soldiers responded to the call of the Bolsheviks and joined the demonstration against "Milyukov's note," under the slogans "Down with War" "Publish the Secret Treaties!" and "All Power to the Soviets!" Nothing could stop the movement of the masses which found expression in the demonstration organized by the Bolsheviks. A few provocative shots were fired by supporters of the Provisional Government, but they were of no consequence. Demonstrations were held in other cities, too, and in many rural districts. 

The April demonstration was the first serious rift in the compromising policy of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries and started a crisis in the Provisional Government. It helped considerably to cure the petty bourgeois masses  of their belief in the peace-loving character of the Provision Government and to accelerate the process of transition of the masses to the side of the Bolsheviks, the process of growth of the bourgeois-democratic revolution into a socialist revolution. 

The April demonstration compelled the Provisional Government to resort to a maneuver with the object of gaining time. for a new offensive against the revolution. Scared by the demonstration, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries tried to persuade their masters to withdraw their declared intention of continuing the war. But the bosses knew what they were about. They, in their turn, threatened to resign if the compromisers did not join the government. The lackeys hearkened to the voice of their masters. The doors of the government were temporarily thrown open to them. A coalition Provisional Government was formed that included Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. Under pres-sure of the masses, Milyukov and Guchkov were dropped from the government. 

The Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary majority on the Soviets were prepared to go to any lengths to prevent power passing into the hands of the Soviets. By their coalition with the bourgeoisie, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries helped the counter-revolutionaries to consolidate their position and prepare for a new attack on the revolution. The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries thus deserted to the camp of the counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie. The meaning of these recent events had to be explained to the masses and new efforts undertaken to prepare them for the decisive struggles that were impending. 

Lenin and Stalin time and again stressed the cardinal importance of the'Party's continuing its  persistent propaganda and organizational work under these circumstances. In a resolution adopted by the Bolshevik Central Committee on April 22. 1917, the tasks of the Party were defined as follows:
"The slogans of the moment are: 
(1) To explain the proletarian line and the proletarian method of ending the war;  
(2) To criticize the petty-bourgeois policy of placing trust in the government of the capitalists and compromising with it;  
(3) To carry on propaganda and agitation from group to group in every regiment, in every factory, and, particularly among the most backward masses, such as domestic servants, unskilled laborers, etc., since it was on them especially that the bourgeoisie endeavored to rely in the days of the crisis; 
( 4) To organize, organize and once more organize the proletariat, in every factory, in every district and in every city quarter." (Lenin and Stalin, 1917, p. 83.)
At the beginning of the revolution, the bulk of the peasantry were under the sway of defencism. But at the same time the whole situation drove them to take up the cudgels against their real enemies, the land-lords and capitalists. 

The first volume of the History of the Civil War quotes some characteristic letters from soldiers, revealing the direction in which their minds were working at the beginning of the revolution. 
"We all feel and realize quite well what we want," one soldier wrote in March, 1917. "God only grant us victory over the foreign enemy and then we shall tackle the internal enemy, that is, the land-lords." (The History of the Civil War in the U.S.S.R., p. 244. International Publishers, New York.) 
And this from another letter:
"We are all glad of liberty. It is. terrible to die when the doors have been flung wide open in Russia  Every . . . soldier wants to see the bright and happy life of today for which we have been waiting for 307 years. . . . But the terrible thing: is that this bloodshed will never cease." (Ibid., pp. 244-45.) 
But the longer the war dragged on, the more outspoken became the anti-war sentiments of the soldiers. In April and May, 1917, they began, with growing insistence, to demand. the early termination of the war, and threatened to leave the front. 

Every day brought greater disillusionment. The coalition government did nothing to save the country and the people from the horrors. of the war, from the economic disruption it had brought in its train,. from famine and impending catastrophe. 

The war continued. The economic life of the country kept going from. bad to worse. Unemployment grew. The factory owners kept throwing workers onto the streets, but the

Soviets and the Provisional Government did nothing to curb the capitalists. The peasants continued to remain without land. They were given lavish promises; but the Government took no chances and sent detachments of troops into the country for the protection of the landed estates. The old officer caste remained in command of the army. The old bureaucratic government machine was left intact. The old imperialist policy towards the oppressed nationalities continued in full force. 

The Provisional Government could not satisfy even the most elementary needs of the working masses, because it stood for the continuation of the imperialist war. Thus, in 1917, the war was the central issue in the life of the people. The country could not be saved from the war, from economic disruption and famine unless the power of the bourgeoisie were overthrown. The causes that had led to the April crisis: continued to operate with ever growing intensity. 

Every step taken by the Provisional Government under these circumstances, when the revolution had awakened vast masses of the people to independent political life, could not but increase the discontent of the people. The working masses were becoming politically enlightened and drawing closer to the Bolsheviks, whose slogans gave voice to their cherished aspirations, and who worked to unite them in a struggle for a Soviet government. 

What the Bolsheviks had proclaimed at the very beginning of the revolution was now, after the April demonstration, being rapidly brought home to the masses. This process was facilitated by the propaganda and organizational work of the Bolsheviks. 

While patiently but persistently carrying on their propaganda and agitational work, the Bolsheviks at the same time strove to organize the workers, soldiers, peasants and the working people of the oppressed nationalities .. They headed a powerful mass movement for the formation of trade unions and shop committees in the mills and factories. A conference of factory committees held in Petrograd from May 30 to June 3 entirely followed the leadership of the Bolsheviks. The municipal elections in Petrograd in the early part of June resulted in a big victory for the Bolsheviks in the working class quarters. That meant that the majority of the Petrograd proletariat were already supporting the Bolshevik Party. 

The influence of the Bolsheviks was likewise growing in the army. Working persistently and perseveringly among the soldiers, they set up Party organizations in the military units, disseminated Bolshevik newspapers and carried on verbal propaganda. The Soldatskaya Pravda (Soldier's Truth), published in Petrograd, and the Okopnaya Pravda (Trench Truth) at the front, played a big part in winning over the army for the Bolsheviks. 

On the eve of the June demonstration, over half the Petrograd garrison sided with the Bolsheviks. Strong Bolshevik organizations already existed in a number of regiments.

An All-Russian conference of Bolshevik Party organizations in the army which opened on June 16, 1917, was attended by forty-eight delegates from the front and seven-teen from the rear, representing five hundred regiments and Bolshevik groups embracing twenty-six thou-sand soldiers. This conference was guided by Lenin and Stalin. They intellectually armed the delegates and the whole Party for more effective efforts to rid the soldiers of the influence of the bourgeoisie, the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries. 

At the First AU-Russian Congress of Soviets which assembled at the beginning of June, and at which the Bolsheviks represented only one-tenth of the delegates, Lenin gave an example of Bolshevik propaganda. He was sitting unobtrusively among the delegates in the body of the hall when, speaking from the rostrum, Tsereteli, the Menshevik leader, confidently and boastingly declared: 
" 'There is no political party in Russia at this juncture which would say: Hand over the power to us,. quit, we will take your place . There is no such party in Russia!' ...
"'There is such a party!' "It was the voice of Lenin hurling this challenge at the Mensheviks in the name of the Bolshevik Party. "The audience was electrified. The drowsy Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik delegates were suddenly jerked into wakefulness and began to buzz with excitement. Delegates rose to their feet to get a glimpse of the man who had hurled this challenge at the bosses. Consternation reigned among the leaders in the Presidium. But Lenin was already mounting the rostrum
. " 'He said that there is no political party in Russia that would express its readiness to take the entire power upon itself .... I say there is! No party can refuse this, and our party does not refuse it; it is prepared at any minute to take over the entire power.'" (Ibid., pp. 224- 25.)
Lenin went on to expound the Bolshevik program for coping with the crisis. The delegates listened
with bated breath. And when the compromisers in the Presidium of the Congress tried to silence Lenin on the grounds that his allotted time had expired, the majority of the delegates vigorously applauded him and demanded that his time be extended. Lenin continued his speech. He ended by calling for the establishment of the power of the revolutionary proletariat supported by the poor peasantry. His simple but forceful words made a deep impression on the rank-and-file delegates
at the congress-the workers and soldiers.

* * *
One of the most widespread illusions among the masses at that period was a belief in the almighty power of the Constituent Assembly which the bourgeoisie had promised to convene. "Let us wait for the Constituent Assembly, it will settle everything," was the prevailing sentiment of the petty bourgeois, who constituted the largest section of the population of Russia. But this sentiment harbored a grave danger to the revolution, for it enabled the bourgeoisie to gain time and to muster its forces for an attack on the revolution. The Bolsheviks persistently explained to the masses that:
"The question of the Constituent Assembly is subordinate to the question of the course and issue of the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat." (V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VI p. 179.) '
The strength of the Bolsheviks' struggle against the constitutional illusions of the masses in 1917 lay in the fact that they took up and developed the most urgent demands of the masses and showed them that they could not possibly be satisfied under a bourgeois government, but only under a government of workers and poor peasants, a government which would not hesitate to adopt revolutionary measures towards the bourgeoisie. 

While working for a Soviet Re-public, the Bolsheviks demanded the immediate convocation  of the Constituent Assembly, thus exposing the counter-revolutionary character of the Provisional Govern-meat. Subsequent events furnished brilliant corroboration of the Bolshevik tactics on this question. As we know, the bourgeoisie never did. convene the Constituent Assembly. It was convened by the Bolsheviks in January, 1918. 

The Constituent Assembly, then, refused to endorse the decrees on land, peace and the transfer of power to the Soviets issued in pursuance of the will of the workers and peasants, and was accordingly dissolved. The Bolshevik Party thus proved to the 

masses in the most striking fashion the counter-revolutionary character of the Constituent Assembly. These tactics contributed considerably to the complete exposure of the com-promising policy of the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik Par-ties in the eyes of the masses. In his "October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists," Comrade Stalin wrote: 
". . . If the Bolsheviks. had not pursued  this policy  towards the Constituent Assembly they would not have succeeded in winning over to their side the masses of the people; and if they had not won over these masses, they could not have transformed the October insurrection into a profound people's revolution." (J. V. Stalin, The October Revolution, p. 123, International Publishers, New York.) 
The Bolsheviks also denounced the petty-bourgeois interpretation of the question of a majority. They treated this question from the standpoint of the actual fundamental interests of the majority of the people. They showed that the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary majority in the Soviets did not answer to the interests of the majority of the people and was hoodwinking them. 

The interests of the working class coincide with the interests of the majority of the people. It is the only class which, having taken the power into its own hands, can administer the state in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the people. 

Highly important is a remark made by Lenin at this period to the effect that revolutionaries must sometimes go against the current and take the risk of remaining for a time in the minority. Retorting to the Menshevik lackeys of the bourgeoisie, who endeavored to mask their treachery under the plea that the masses were chauvinistic and that it was their desire to remain with the masses, Lenin wrote: 
"Is it not more worthy of internationalists at this moment to be able to resist 'mass' intoxication than to 'wish to remain' with the masses, i.e., to succumb to the general epidemic? Have we not seen how the chauvinists in all the belligerent countries of Europe justified themselves on the ground that they wished to 'remain with the masses'? Is it not 'essential to be able for a while to remain in a minority as against the 'mass' intoxication?" (V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VI, p. 44.) 
But when going against the cur-rent one must know how. In April, for example, Lenin wrote that to issue the slogan "Down with the war!" would be a mistake, for the misled masses, infected with "revolutionary defencism," would not listen to it.
"The slogan 'Down with the war!'" Lenin wrote, "is, of course, a correct one. But it fails to take into account the specific nature of the tasks of the present moment and of the necessity of approaching the masses in a different way. It is, in my opinion, similar to the slogan 'Down with the tsar!' with which the inexperienced agitator of the 'good old days' went simply and directly to the country districts-and received a beating." (Ibid., pp. 53-54)
The Bolsheviks had patiently and persistently to explain and prove that the bourgeoisie needed the war for the sake of their own pockets, and not for the defense of the revolution, and that the character and aims of a war depended on what class was waging it. And this is what the Bolsheviks did. 

As we had already said, the tremendous self-sacrificing educational and organizational work of the Bolsheviks very soon began to bear fruit. Large masses of people began to listen to the Bolsheviks, to draw closer to them and to support them. 

With the formation of the coalition Provisional Government, the spontaneous movement of the working people continued steadily to spread. An' outbreak of popular indignation of gigantic power and dimensions was maturing. 

The Bolsheviks based all their activities on this growing movement of the masses, organized it and led it. By the end of April the Bolshevik Party already had a membership of eighty thousand, and its ranks were rapidly growing. In Petrograd, the Party already had strong support in the working class districts and in the garrisons. 

The Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party appointed a peaceful demonstration of workers and soldiers for June 10. All the arrangements had already been made, when late at night on the eve of the demonstration it was learned that, on the insistence of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, the All-Russian Congress of Soviets had adopted a decision prohibiting the demonstration. The Bolsheviks submitted to this decision, anxious not to come into conflict with the congress. The Provisional Government and· the counter-revolutionary  forces lurking behind it wanted at all costs to provoke the Bolsheviks into some indiscretion and to drive the masses into premature action so as to furnish an excuse for crushing the revolution. The Bolsheviks denounced the provocative designs of the counter-revolutionaries and refused to fall into the trap.

The Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary Executive Committee of the Petrograd Soviet could not close its eyes to the formidable tide of the rising anger of the people. Feeling that the workers and soldiers would act without it and in spite of it, it decided to call a demonstration on June 18 (July 1) under the auspices of the Congress of Soviets. The Mensheviks counted on being able to exploit the revolutionary mood of the masses for their own ends. 

The Bolsheviks took a most active part in the preparations for this demonstration. On June 14, Stalin wrote in the Pravda: 
"Now it is our task to ensure that the demonstration in Petrograd on June 18 is held under our revolutionary slogans." (Lenin-Stalin, 1917, p. 183.)
And this, the Party achieved. On June 18, four hundred thousand persons Game out onto the streets of Petrograd. The overwhelming majority of them marched under the Bolshevik slogans. 

"The air reverberates to the shouts. Now and again cries are heard: 'Down with the ten capitalist Ministers!' 'All power to the Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies!' And in response loud and approving cheers ring out from all sides .... " (Ibid., p. 191.)

June 18, 1917, was a distinct land-mark in the development of the revolution. The June demonstration signified a second crisis of power in the country. It revealed that a pro-found shifting of classes had taken place since the time of the April crisis. 

The masses were rapidly swinging away from the compromisers. Lenin's tactics of isolating the com-promising parties were bearing abundant fruit. The revolution was steadily advancing. The bourgeoisie were in a state of real consternation. The June demonstration, as Lenin said: 
". . . assumed the character of a demonstration of the strength and policy of the revolutionary proletariat, which is pointing the direction for the revolution and pointing the way out of the impasse." (V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VI ' p. 164.) 
The Provisional Government of the petty-bourgeois parties the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, feverishly sought for a means of curbing the revolution. The British and French imperialists were categorically demanding that the Russian forces at the front take the offensive. To this the Provision-al Government consented. 

The offensive at the front was launched on the same day as the demonstration of June 18; but with-in ten days it had completely collapsed. It cost the lives of sixty thousand men. The generals had not made proper preparations for it. But they threw the whole blame for the defeat on the Bolsheviks and demanded the dissolution of the Bolshevik Party. 

The counter-revolutionaries proceeded to concentrate the whole power of the state in their own hands. The Cadets, Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries came to an agreement on this score. The bourgeoisie knew their partners, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, very well; they knew that what they feared most was to re-main in power alone and that they would accept any conditions the Cadets demanded. But the offensive at the front and its collapse had aroused the profound indignation of the workers and soldiers, who were already in a state of growing unrest as it was. On July 3, armed workers and soldiers began to assemble outside the Taurida Palace in Petrograd, stormily demanding the transfer of power to the Soviets. A huge armed demonstration was impending. 

Lenin and Stalin were fully aware of the intense indignation of the masses, but they considered that an armed demonstration at that juncture would be both dangerous and to no purpose, for it was, in fact, the design of the counter-revolutionaries to take advantage of the moment when the revolution had not yet fully ripened all over the country to provoke the masses to come out onto the streets, and to crush them. 

The Bolshevik Central Committee took measures to explain to the masses that an armed demonstration in Petrograd would be highly inexpedient. But the indignation of the workers and soldiers was so profound that there was no possibility of restraining them. Thereupon, Lenin and Stalin showed an example of how a revolutionary party of the working class should act in such circumstances. They recommended that the earlier decision be reversed, that the demonstration be led and organized, so as to lend it a peaceful character and prevent the enemy from provoking the workers into premature armed action.

That is what the Bolshevik Party did.

The demonstration of July 4 assumed tremendous dimensions and continued all through the night. Huge masses of workers and soldiers, led by the Bolsheviks, marched to the headquarters of the Petrograd Soviet and of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, demanding that the Soviets take over power and break with the bourgeoisie and its imperialist policy. 

The demonstration bore a peaceful character. Nevertheless, reactionary military units, which had just been brought into Petrograd, were sent out against the demonstrators. Several of the columns were attacked by cavalry. The streets of Petrograd were stained with the blood of workers and soldiers. 

The military cadets wrecked the offices of the Soldatskaya Pravda. 

A hue and cry was raised against the Bolsheviks. On July 7 the Provisional Government issued a war-rant for Lenin's arrest. Capital punishment was introduced. The Bolshevik Party was again driven underground. The Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks went over to the imperialist bourgeoisie lock, stock and barrel, and sunk up to their necks in the mire of counter-revolution. The bourgeoisie secured undivided power. Kerensky, the Prime Minister in the new government, was only a screen. The mas-ters of the situation were the military clique, behind whose backs stood the Cadets. 

The peaceful period in the development of the revolution had ended. 

The masses had received a stern lesson .They had expected liberty, peace, bread and land from the revolution. But what did the bourgeoisie offer them now? 

Instead of bread, starvation. In-stead of liberty, the destruction of the workers' organization. Instead of peace, the continuation of the criminal war. The bourgeoisie were steadily restoring the old order. The government did not lift a finger to curb the profiteers, the robbers who were piling up wealth on the war. But, on the other hand, they again began to institute proceedings against the peasants for seizing the land. They continued to feed the peasants with promises, but they gave them no land.

"As to the land," Lenin wrote, "wait until the Constituent Assembly. As to the Constituent Assembly, wait until the end of the war. As to the end of the war, wait until a complete victory is won. That is what it comes to. The capitalists and landlords, having a majority in the government, are simply mocking at the peasants." (Ibid., p. 192.) 

At a first glance it might seem that everything was shaping in favor of the bourgeoisie. But, as a matter of fact, the July days brought the revolution nearer, prepared the masses for it. Lenin and Stalin realized this perfectly. It was no longer possible to continue with the old slogans, to pursue the old tactics, to fight with the old methods. The tactics and forms of struggle had to be changed in conformity with the new situation. 

Lenin and Stalin explained the necessity for this change of tactics. In the pamphlet On Slog,ans, Lenin wrote: 
"The cycle of development of the class and party struggle in Russia from March 12 (February 27) to July 17 ( 4) is complete. A new cycle is beginning, one that involves not the old classes, not the old parties, not the old Soviets, but classes, parties and Soviets that have been rejuvenated in the fire of struggle, tempered, schooled and refashioned in the course of the struggle. We must look forward, not backward. We must operate not with the old, but with the new, post-July, class and party categories." (Ibid., p. 174.) 
In the report he delivered on the political situation at the Sixth Congress of the Bolshevik Party, held in Petrograd from July 26 to August 3, Stalin said: 
" ... Until July 3 a peaceful victory, a peaceful transfer of power to th Soviets was possible. Had the Congress of Soviets decided to take power, I think the Cadets would not have dared to come out openly against the Soviets, for such a step would have been doomed to failure from the very outset. But now that the counter-revolution has organized and consolidated itself, it is utter nonsense to say that the Soviets can take over power peacefully. The peaceful period of the revolution has come to an end; the non-peaceful period, a period of clashes and outbreaks has begun." (Lenin-Stalin, The Russian Revolution, pp. 139-40, International Publishers, New York.) 
Now, Lenin taught, the transfer of power to the Soviets could no longer be demanded, for the majority of them had openly gone over to the bourgeoisie. The slogan "All power to the Soviets!" had to be withdrawn, for it no longer answered the situation. Power could no longer be won by peaceful means. 

The transfer of the entire power " to the proletariat and poor peasantry now became the new slogan of the Party. The dictatorship of the proletariat and the poor peasantry could be won only as a result of a successful insurrection. Preparations had to be made for armed insurrection. 
"The peaceful period of the revolution had ended, for now the bayonet had been placed on the agenda." (History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, p. 195.)
After the July days a certain lull set in in the movement of the masses. It was as if the masses had paused to take stock of what had taken place, to adjust their thoughts and to weigh events. The countless promises and assurances of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries depreciated in value with every passing day; the wretched phrase mongering of the compromisers lost its glitter. The realization of the need for a decisive struggle, a struggle of life and death, steadily gained ground. The idea of storming the citadel of capitalism rapidly matured in the minds of the masses. They began to grow aware of their own strength, and waited for the hour of decisive battle. This Lenin and Stalin clearly realized. 

Meanwhile, the bourgeoisie, having concentrated the power in its own hands, was making active preparations to smash the Bolsheviks and the debilitated Soviets, and to pave the way for an open counter-revolutionary dictatorship. 

It was Kerensky who aspired to the laurels of a Russian Cavaignac. However, this Socialist-Revolutionary lawyer inspired little confidence in the bourgeoisie. It preferred a man of action, and it found him in General Kornilov. 

On August 25 Kornilov moved the Third Cavalry Corps against Petrograd. But then something happened which this general, who aspired to the role of dictator, had never expected. The Bolshevik Party, head-ed by Lenin and Stalin, had been keeping a careful watch on events. The Bolshevik Central Committee called upon the workers and soldiers to put up armed resistance to the counter-revolution. 

The news of General Kornilov's counter-revolutionary attempt stirred up the masses all over the country. Answering the appeal of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party, workers, soldiers and sailors rose up with arms in hand to resist the advancing counter-revolution.

The Bolsheviks were busy every-where, mustering the working folk in defense of the revolution. The armed workers and soldiers set up revolutionary committees and staffs to combat the Kornilov attempt. 

Kornilov's action caused the revolution to take a new turn, putting an end to the fatal illusions on the subject of compromise with the bourgeoisie. Kerensky was forced to beat a retreat, to make a right-about-face, and even to take measures against Kornilov. He realized that if he did not do so, the movement of the masses might sweep him away, too, and the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries with him. 

The situation had changed. The masses had risen up in a united front against counter-revolution. And Lenin at once wrote to the Central Committee pointing to the necessity of reckoning with the changed situation and changing the Party's tactics accordingly. He stressed the necessity of changing the forms of struggle with Keren-sky, inasmuch as the latter had disassociated himself from Kornilov and had been obliged to turn against him. During the Kornilov affair Lenin deemed it unwise and harmful to call for the immediate overthrow of the Provisional Government, of which Kerensky had been the head since the July days. 

"How, then, must our tactics be changed after the Kornilov revolt?" Lenin asked, and replied: 
"We must change the form of our struggle against Kerensky. While not relaxing our hostility towards him one jot, while not withdrawing a single word we have said against him, while not renouncing the aim of overthrowing Kerensky, we say: We must reckon with the present state of affairs; we shall not over-throw Kerensky just now; we shall adopt a different method of fighting him, namely, we shall point out to the people (who are fighting Kornilov) the weakness and vacillation of Kerensky. That was done before too. But now it has become the main thing. That is the change." (V. I.Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VI, p. 206.) 
Lenin and Stalin always demanded that Bolsheviks know how to solve problems as they arise. In the new situation that had arisen, Lenin stressed the necessity for more energetic agitation on behalf of what might be called "partial demands" to Kerensky: 
" ... Arrest Milyukov; arm the Petrograd workers; summon the Kronstadt, Viborg and Helsingsfors troops to Petrograd; disperse the State Duma; arrest Rodzyanko; legalize the transfer of the landlords' estates to the peasants; introduce workers' control over bread and over the factories, etc., etc.
These demands must be addressed not only to Kerensky, and not so much to Kerensky, as to the work-ers, soldiers and peasants who have been carried away by the struggle against Kornilov. Rouse them still further; encourage them to beat up the generals and officers who are in favor of supporting Kornilov; urge them to demand the immediate transfer of the land to the peasants; suggest to them the necessity of arresting Rodzyanko and Milyukov, of dispersing the State Duma, shut-ting down the Rech and other bourgeois papers, and instituting proceedings against them." (Ibid.) 

Thus the Bolsheviks helped the masses in the way most comprehensible to them to realize the necessity of overthrowing Kerensky himself.

By taking the lead of the masses during the Kornilov plot, and adapt-ing its tactics to the new conditions, the Bolsheviks achieved outstanding successes. Kornilov was smashed. The workers were armed. The incarcerated Bolsheviks were liberated from prison. During the fight-ing against Kornilov a Red Guard was formed in Petrograd. The Bolsheviks had formed even stronger contacts with the factories and garrison. Their influence in the provinces had grown immensely. Now the Soviets began to turn Bolshevik. The revolution steadily spread. The peasants set fire to manors and arbitrarily began to seize the landed estates. 

Meanwhile, the war proceeded, ruthlessly disrupting every branch of national life. The economic organization of the country crumbled away at startling speed. Inevitable catastrophe faced Russia. It loomed larger and larger. 

Lenin and Stalin pointed out that although ways of averting catastrophe and starvation existed, and although these ways were perfectly obvious and perfectly feasible, yet nothing was being done: 
" ... only. because," Lenin wrote, "exclusively because their adoption would affect the untold profits of a handful of landlords and capitalists .... " (Lenin-Stalin, 1917, p. 420
It was necessary, as Lenin pointed out, to introduce state control, accountancy and regulation of the production and distribution of goods, to nationalize the banks and syndicates, and to abolish commercial secrets. But these measures could be effected only by a revolutionary workers' and peasants' government. Lenin brilliantly demonstrated that the material conditions for the transition to socialism in Russia were fully ripe, and that the movement towards socialism only depended on the degree to which the masses sided with the Bolsheviks. 

Lenin and Stalin kept a keen and careful eye on the class movements that were taking place in the country, on the way the masses were espousing the Bolshevik program for combating the crisis and saving the country from disaster. After the Kornilov affair, no efforts of bankrupt windbags like Kerensky, Avksentyev and Tsereteli could prevent the masses from siding with the Bolsheviks. 

Their attempt b divert the work-ng people from the revolution by convening what was known as the All-Russian Democratic Council, which they pretended represented the whole people, ended in failure. 

The vast majority of the Soviets were opposed to coalition with the bourgeoisie. On September 18, a conference of representatives of Peasants' Soviets took place in Petrograd, at which the representatives from twenty-three provinces and four armies, as well as the over-whelming majority of the representatives of the national groups, came out against a _coalition. 

In Can the Bolsheviks Retain Power?, written October 7-14, 1917, Lenin made a brilliant analysis  of the movements that had taken place among the masses since the revolution. He showed that the proletariat was already leading the peasant millions, that it had rallied the petty bourgeoisie and wrested it from the influence of the bourgeoisie. 

In September and October, 1917 he Russian proletariat ·acted already as the representative of the people on every fundamental issue of the revolution, and, above all, on the most urgent issue of the time -how to get the country out of the war and save it from starvation and disaster. 

The revolution was led by the Party of Lenin and Stalin, which between February and October had grown tenfold and already numbered four hundred thousand members. 

On August 31 in Petrograd, and on September 5 in Moscow, the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers'Deputies for the first time adopted Bolshevik resolutions. From all parts of the country news came pouring in of Soviets passing into the hands of the Bolsheviks. This was of decisive importance. 

"Having obtained a majority in the Soviets of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies of both capitals," Lenin wrote in the middle of September, 1917, "the Bolsheviks can and must take over the power o:t: government. . . . 
"The majority of the people are on our side. This was proved by the long and painful course of events from May 19 to September 13 and to September 25. The majority gained in the Soviets of the capitals was a result of the fact that the people have developed in our direction." (Lenin-Stalin, The Russian Revolution, p. 188.) 
And once again the slogan "All Power to the Soviets!" resounded through the country. But now it meant something entirely different from what it had meant in the July days. The Soviets were now Bolshevik. 
"In the flames of the struggle," Stalin wrote in September, 1917, "the moribund Soviets are reviving. They are once again taking the helm and leading the revolutionary masses.
"All power to the Soviets!-such is the slogan of the new movement." (Ibid., p. 196.) 
At the end of July, 1917, Lenin had written in his "Lessons of the Revolution": 
"The lesson of the Russian revolution is that there is no escape for the masses from the iron grip of war, famine and enslavement to the landlords and capitalists, unless they completely break with the Socialist-Revolutionary and Menshevik parties, unless they clearly recognize the treacherous role of the latter, unless they renounce all compromise with the bourgeoisie and decidedly come over to the side of the revolutionary workers. Only the revolutionary workers, supported by the poor peasants, can smash the resistance of the capitalists and lead the people to the conquest of the land without compensation, to complete freedom, to salvation from famine, the cessation of war, and to a just and lasting peace." (V. I. Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VI, p. 204.) 
In 1917 the Bolsheviks set an epoch-making example of how to win the masses in the midst of war
and revolution, and how to lead them to armed insurrection. 

Stalin teaches us that: 
"A political party is not the same thing as a military army. While a military command begins a war with an army ready at its hand, the Party has to create its army in the course of the struggle itself, in the course of class conflicts, as fast as the masses themselves become convinced by their own experience that the slogans of the Party, the policy of the Party, are right." (J. V. Stalin, The October Revolution, p. 114.) 
In October, 1917, the Bolsheviks already had a political army ready at hand and capable of making a revolution. This army was led to victory in the immortal days of the great October Revolution by the Bolshevik Party, headed by the great teachers and leaders of toiling humanity-Lenin and Stalin.

HOW THE BOLSHEVIKS WON THE MASSES IN 1917
Communist İnternational 1940